Teacher Gifts and Chocolate Covered Spaghetti

I had to share some research with you that I was doing earlier today. The chocolate covered spaghetti was just a "control" in my test...okay, it's the day after Easter so cut me some slack. :)

Google Results:
"chocolate-covered spaghetti"=513
"gifts teachers really want"=11
"gifts teachers want"=

That number was 3. T-h-r-e-e, three, 3. Seriously? Do we put so little thought into the people who are influencing our children for seven hours a day?

You could always google "gifts for teachers" and then you could get a wonderful list of items you could personalize with the teacher's name like a mini-chalkboard, a coffee mug or a silver apple (add dripping sarcasm). Let me tell you what google won't...that will be the fifth mug they've received this year. However heartfelt and well-thought-out that gift may seem, it is what you want to get them and not what they want.

What does research say teachers really want?

1) A thank you note.
I have been out of the teaching profession for over 8 years now and I still have a box that we called our Happy Boxes at my school. It has notes in it from the parents of children that were a joy to teach and children that were a daily challenge to teach. The ones that touched me most were the ones from the parents thanking me for my patiences and love for the children that challenged me. I hear story after story from teachers who have a box, a bag or a Rubbermaid container filled with these notes. They are notes they read over and over again. That is not to say that we don't treasure wonderful handmade items, it's just that over the years things break and your "Happy Box" starts to turn into a "Happy Storage Rental Container" and you have to pick and choose what is most meaningful. I've only been able to save two small ones: From Mitchell M in 1996, an angel sun catcher and from Katie L in 1997, a red bird mini-statue. Trust me that the most meaningful thing to your child's teacher will be your words.

So write a note and make it specific. Ask your child some questions to get you writing:
-What do you like most about Mrs. Smith?
-What was something that was tricky for you to learn that Mrs. Smith helped you with?
-What was the best thing Mrs. Smith taught you this year?
-What will you miss most about Mrs. Smith next year?

As a parent jot some notes:
-Was there anything Mrs. Smith did for your child that really touched you?
-Did she help your child in a subject that was really frustrating for them?
-Did she see a strength or weakness in your child that you had not seen at home?
-Did she support their giftedness in an area by giving them more challenging work?
-Did she help your child's confidence in a certain area?

Your child's teacher will appreciate it, not just this year, but for many years to come.

2) A gift card for classroom supplies.
Where do teachers buy their supplies? Two of the most popular educational stores because of quality and cost:
I'll have some coupon codes for both coming up next week, but a gift certificate is really your best choice unless you know something your child has mentioned they need or the teacher has told you something they've been wanting. The teacher in the classroom right next door to them might have some good ideas too!

3) Ask me!
Hand this form out to your child's teacher and tell her you'd like to find out a little bit more about her for a surprise.

If they've always wanted to go to new fancy restaurant in town, but cannot afford it, a simple chipping in of five or ten dollars by you and few other parents can make that happen.

And if you're the teacher, what do you wish we knew about what you REALLY want? If you're the parent, what do you give for a gift that you know your child's teacher REALLY wants? I love your comments! Keep on sharing :)


  1. My sister is a teacher and she always tells me how much she appreciates the "gifts" but like you said she gets the same ol' stuff year after year after year - and sometimes from more than one child each year. I always go off the beaten path for my kids' teachers. One year we did a movie pack gift certificate (it was pricey however) - the gift certificate was good for two movie tickets and $10 at the concession stand. The teachers raved about it, saying it was something they could use with the family/spouse. I already posted my teacher appreciation week gift, but I will also be posting soon about our year end teacher gift that I am excited to share with everyone!

    I love your blog by the way!!

  2. I agree that when I was in the classroom, the handwritten note cards with specifics were the sweetest. They were keepers, and I did get a lot of mugs. :) As a parent, I've given two gifts teachers have really raved over .... 1) a poem we wrote about the teacher 2) a meal we showed up with at the school at the end of the day for a pregnant (and very tired) teacher ... she was not a "sappy" teacher, but this one made her tear up and overflow with appreciation.

    Thanks for the great ideas!

  3. I love your ideas! Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and leading me here. I'm going to bookmark it because I won't remember all this later!

  4. Annikke, thanks so much for your comment. I love the movie tickets and concession stand. I've done the tickets once, but never thought to add something for the concession stand too!

  5. Hi, Julie. Thanks for stopping by! A meal at the end of the day is something any teacher would welcome, but a pregnant teacher--that's awesome!!!

  6. Heather, thank so much for stopping by and the compliment!

  7. I want to become a teacher just to get some of these great chocolate gifts. GO teachers!


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